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Bronco notes: Players playing for Fangio (but what about not taking the field goal?)

Malik Reed explains his in-game emotion. Gordon to return to practice. Boone shines in his Broncos' rushing debut.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Fire Fangio if you want, but there is evidence through the way Broncos players play that they give him the respect of a coaching icon.

Before those coaching icons started consistently winning, anyway.

Did you know Paul "Bear" Bryant went 1-9 in his first season at Texas A&M and Bill Belichick averaged a 7-9 record in five seasons at Cleveland before he got a second chance in New England and went 5-11 in his first season there?

>>Video above: Klis & Tell: What went wrong vs. Chiefs, Broncos remaining playoff chances

For Bryant and Belichick, the process was in place before the wins started coming. For Fangio, through the good and bad of his three seasons as Broncos head coach, his players have played hard and played tough to the end.

Or have you not seen the TV cameras catch Malik Reed going emotionally berserk one or two times a game after a great play by Fangio’s Denver defense?

"It’s just passion," Reed said during a press conference Monday at team headquarters. "I can think back to college and high school and I feel like it’s a love of the game. It just explodes in moments, big points in the game. It’s my heart for the game. It’s something that came all the way back in high school with plays where that burst of emotion comes out and it’s just love of the game that continues to grow and seeing how far you can push yourself."

This doesn’t mean Fangio shouldn’t have taken the three points when his offense’s 20-play drive reached fourth and 2 at the Chiefs’ 8 yard line, a drive that went from 12-minute mark of the second quarter to the 1-minute mark. Getting nothing, on top of the emotional baggage from an 11-game losing streak, brought about a sinking, demoralizing feeling. Here we go again.

With an hour or two sleep overnight (the Broncos plane arrived back from Kansas City about 2 a.m.) did Fangio have any no-point regrets about not taking the field goal to finish off the 20-play drive?

"No, that was one of the easier decisions," Fangio said.

RELATED: Broncos don't score off 20-play drive, lose to Chiefs, 22-9

RELATED: Colorado's 'Queen of Shoe Art' and Boys and Girls Club team up to design Broncos cleats

Credit: AP
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback DeAndre Baker (30) celebrates after in interception and run back for a touchdown by teammate Daniel Sorensen during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

No offense vs. Chiefs

Say what you want about Fangio but, goodness he hasn't had much chance against the Chiefs.

The Broncos' point totals vs. KC since start of 2019: 6, 3, 16, 16, 9.

The fewest points vs. KC among AFC West opponents since 2019: 

Broncos 10.0

Raiders 20.8

Chargers 25.2

The more things change … the Broncos are once again averaging less than 20 points a game at 19.8. They averaged 20.2 points last year; 17.6 in 2019; 20.6 in 2018; 18.1 in 2017 and 20.8 in 2016 when the team’s defensive stars first started openly griping about the offense.

"We’ve got to figure out a way to score more points," Fangio said Monday. "We’re in the bottom third of the league in that, and we’ve got to do better scoring points — no doubt about it. We didn’t have any rhythm last night in our passing game. It says that we had 250 yards passing, I believe, but 34 of it came on that last play of the first half, and then a bunch came on the last two drives. We just never got into a good rhythm in the passing game last night."

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon (25) is tackled by Los Angeles Chargers safety Nasir Adderley (24) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Gordon to return

Fangio said he expects veteran running back Melvin Gordon III to practice at some point this week after missing the Chiefs’ game Sunday night because of a hip injury. Javonte Williams moved up to Gordon’s 1A role for the game in Kansas City and was tremendous with 102 yards rushing and 76 yards receiving. Mike Boone also got his first chance as the backup running back and was also impressive, rushing for 35 yards on just four carries and adding another 19 yards off a reception.

Boone looked good in training camp, too, but then his quad blew up while running around left end for what would have been an easy touchdown in a joint scrimmage with the Vikings on Aug. 12.

"It was a freak accident like, out of nowhere," Boone said. "I was just sprinting and I felt a sharp pain. I’m over it. I didn’t think about that last night at all when I was running. Felt good out there."

It’s unclear whether Gordon will play against the Detroit Lions this Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High.

Bronco Bits

After his two costly interceptions, Teddy Bridgewater did set a new personal best with his 16th touchdown pass of the season Sunday, a 13-yard swing pass to Williams. Bridgewater’s otherwise rough outing dropped him from 12th to 16th in quarterback standings with a 95.0 passer rating. …

Javonte Williams is now 13th in the league in rushing with 670 yards off 140 carries.

Broncos podcast: Klis' Mike Drop

Denver Broncos headlines, game previews and interviews with our 9NEWS insider Mike Klis.

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